NEW YORK (WABC) – The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is investigating a possible case of monkeypox, a rare virus that is rare outside of Africa and can cause flu-like symptoms.

A possible infection in New York City comes after European and American officials discovered a small number of monkeypox cases in recent days.

Authorities are investigating possible infections in the Montreal area, while Massachusetts officials are investigating whether the smallpox infection in the state is linked to the outbreak in the UK.

Officials said the patient is in Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, and the city’s health lab will send preliminary tests to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED | What is monkeypox? What you need to know about the virus, symptoms, spread

Smallpox of monkeys it is harder to get infected than COVID because it requires close contact or sharing of body fluids.

Symptoms include fever and rash, muscle aches and chills.

Worldwide, it is fatal in 3-6% of cases, although in areas with quality health care the mortality rate is less than 1%.

This is the largest outbreak outside of Africa, and if there is a confirmed case in Massachusetts.

The virus is endemic in Central and West Africa and is rare outside the continent.

Usually the cases are related to travel, but many of the recent cases in Europe in North America have been reported in people who have recently traveled, meaning the virus is spreading locally.

However, doctors say not to worry, but instead urged residents to be aware.

“It spreads primarily through very close contact,” said epidemiologist Dr. Jay Warma. “It can spread through the air, but unlike COVID, which can spread over a large range and hang in the air for a long time, we don’t believe that’s true with this virus.”

Health officials are monitoring the contacts in hopes of limiting the spread.

RELATED | Health officials confirm that the first case of smallpox in the United States this year was reported in Massachusetts

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